Gee, listen to the GOP playing the ‘class warfare’ card

In his announcement speech Monday, Jeb Bush took the time to acknowledge the ongoing economic struggles of “hard-working men and women who don’t need reminding that the economy is more than the stock market,” which has been soaring to new heights while many families “haven’t gotten a raise in 15 years.”

You find a similar populist message at his “Right to Rise” SuperPAC:

“Millions of our fellow citizens across the broad middle class feel as if the American Dream is now out of their reach; that our politics are petty and broken; that opportunities are elusive; and that the playing field is no longer fair or level. Too many of the poor have lost hope that a path to a better life is within their grasp. While the last eight years have been pretty good ones for top earners, they’ve been a lost decade for the rest of America.”

Until recently, anybody employing rhetoric of that sort would have been attacked by Republicans for indulging in class warfare and the politics of resentment. And it’s not just Bush. Marco Rubio acknowledges that “the country’s going through an extraordinary economic transformation that is leaving many people insecure,” concluding that our identity as the land of opportunity is in question. Even Ted Cruz has been heard complaining that “Today the top 1 percent earn a higher share of our national income than any year since 1928.”

The question then becomes: What do they propose to do about it? If we are indeed in the midst of “an extraordinary economic transformation,” as Rubio frames it — and all the evidence suggests that he is correct — what new policies do they propose to address it? What 21st century policies can address these 21st century challenges?

And there’s the rub. The economic reality has changed, the rhetoric has begun to change, but the policies proposed by the GOP remain what they have been for 50 years or more. Has technology devalued the labor of millions of Americans? We need to cut regulation and reduce taxes, especially for the wealthy. Has global trade concentrated earning power in fewer and fewer hands? Cut regulation and reduce taxes, especially for the wealthy.

I don’t think that approach makes sense. I don’t think it’s enough to pay mere lip service to the idea of a fundamental transformation shaking the economic security of Americans to the core, and then respond with the exact same agenda proposed by Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Take what has happened to manufacturing, long the core of the American middle class and often the source of retirement benefits and health insurance for tens of millions. The common perception is that our industrial sector has been hollowed out by overseas competition, but it’s not true. Manufacturing output adjusted for inflation is higher than it has ever been:

output

However, even as output soared, technology and other factors have dramatically reduced the number of Americans needed to produce those goods:

manu

That’s Rubio’s “extraordinary economic transformation,” captured in two charts. Also, note that the decline in manufacturing jobs accelerated through the 2000s, a period in which the GOP economic nostrums of lower taxes and regulation were applied with a vengeance. I’m not arguing that the downward trend was caused by those policies — its sources are far more fundamental — but clearly, those policies did nothing to reverse or address it.

And no, I don’t know what the answers will be. In general, though, if the economy is making things harder and harder on American workers and their families, I don’t think the answer is for government to make it harder still by stripping health insurance from millions, cutting Social Security, Medicaid, student loans, etc.

And if those at the top are already doing extraordinarily well, with more than enough capital accumulated to invest if they choose, I don’t understand the GOP insistence that government must add further to their advantages.

But that seems to be the message still. Even now, in 2015, Republicans want to reduce or eliminate corporate income taxes. They also want to reduce or eliminate taxes on investment income and capital gains, so that the Mitt Romneys of the world would literally pay NO income taxes at all.

To which Wall Street says yes please, thank you very much. Ka-ching.

Republican candidates for the 2016 nomination also want to repeal or greatly weaken the Dodd-Frank banking regulations that were put into place after the 2008 banking collapse to discourage risky investments that might force another taxpayer bailout. They also want to weaken and if possible kill the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, established to try to at least somewhat level the field between consumers and predatory financial firms.

To which Wall Street says yes please, thank you very much. Ka-ching.

Congressional Republicans are also trying to cut the budget of the IRS, the Securities and Exchange Commission and other watchdog agencies. To which Wall Street once again says yes please, thank you very much. Ka-ching.

In short, I’m not sure where the Republican Party seems to be going with this newly populist rhetoric. It seems to be taking them right back to where they started.

Reader Comments 0

715 comments
ElemennoP
ElemennoP

"Gee, listen to the GOP playing the ‘class warfare’ card"


As opposed to the "white privilege" and "Racism" cards......

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

Is that the hand of God about to smite the Jebster?

EliasDenny
EliasDenny

I love all the jobs available that pay less than $9 an hour and really make it easy to get ahead in the world. As we have eviscerated the unions we have also killed any possibility of raising pay scales.

td1234
td1234

The bottom 50% of all households makes 11.55% of all income and pays 2.89% of all income taxes. The bottom 50% has household income below $34,823 per year. This money does not count the almost $1 trillion per year that is taken from the top 50% and given to the bottom 50% in the forms of direct money payments or programs like SNAP, TANF or Medicaid. 

LeninTime
LeninTime

@Doom Classical liberal 

So. Should we spend billions more on defense?

**
Well, the military industrial apparatus certainly is hoping that we get that impression. And with the entire US media under their wing, they're likely to get their way.

The whole engineered crisis with Russia, which has been thoroughly manufactured and stoked by the Obama administration in coordination with right wing and rabidly Russophobic elements in Eastern Europe and the Baltics, has been designed to serve this purpose.

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

Logical dude,

No doubt. A good bit of military spending is waste. I still despise Trent Lott for pushing through a 350 million dollar frigate that the navy didn't want or need. Disgusting.

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

TD,

I couldn't remember off the top of my head but are u sure about that? Either way they are paying their equivalent.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@Doom Classical liberal 

If it's a stagnating job market then why are people dying in deserts trying to get here. 

**
You say 'deserts', so by that I assume you're referring to world-wide migration patters, including Africa and Middle East. And the answer to that is of course that those countries are largely in flames, due primarily to wars launched by US imperialism.

And in our hemisphere of course the reason has largely to do with the devastating trade policies that have impoverished large layers of those societies, compounded by the drug wars.

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

Lenin,

Puh-leeze. People on average work far less hours then they did a century ago when life and working conditions were far more brutish.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@Doom Classical liberal 

People on average work far less hours then they did a century ago when life and working conditions were far more brutish

**

That's right, a century ago, the period of brutal pure capitalism before some modicum of regulations and concessions were wrung from the system for workers that introduced some of the minimal standards of a decent life that we've known during our lifetime (40 hr work weeks, weekends, no child labor). 

The whole point being, it is back to those conditions that we are rapidly returning.

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

Nick danger,

Wealth and income are 2 different things. I don't think the top 1% earns 40% of the income. I think it's more like 18 to 20%.

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

Barking frog,

Correct u are. Which tells us that despite all the prog whining the U.S. still has people from all over the world trying to get in.

barkingfrog
barkingfrog

Russia orders 40 ICBMs that will penetrate any missile defenses. The race is on.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@Doom Classical liberal Nah, just spend it better.  Get rid of a couple of programs that congress keeps paying for but the Pentagon says are not needed. 

IReportYouWhine#1
IReportYouWhine#1

If it's a stagnating job market then why are people dying in deserts trying to get here.


Um, because of welfare and free health care?


LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@IReportYouWhine#1 Somehow, there were about 11 million illegals according to reports all over the 2008 elections.  It's 2015, and there are still about 11 million illegals according to quoted numbers. 


Evidently the border is now secure, so get the rest legalized, documented, and paying taxes.  About time we got 11 million more taxpayers on the books. That'll balance the budget pretty quick, right? 

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

Lenin,

If it's a stagnating job market then why are people dying in deserts trying to get here.

I suppose now you'll complain about "the types" of jobs. It's as predictable as the sun rising in the east.

barkingfrog
barkingfrog

@Doom Classical liberal 

When you're in a bad place you try to get to a better place but that doesn't

mean it's the best place or even as good as it could be.

King_of_Kolob
King_of_Kolob

Corporations are people when it comes to SuperPACs or tax breaks. However when GM cars kill over 100 people from a problem GM knew about, nobody goes to jail. Bummer!! 

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

I suggest u buy a car that's fully govt made since gubment only has your best interests at heart. I'm sure yugos r safer, more reliable too.

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

Sorry, Lenin. If all u got is baseless hyperbole then i gotta call it like I see it.

_GodlessHeathen_
_GodlessHeathen_

Which candidate will be the first to behead a hedge fund manager on the stage?

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@_GodlessHeathen_ 

“Millions of our fellow citizens across the broad middle class feel as if the American Dream is now out of their reach; that our politics are petty and broken; that opportunities are elusive; and that the playing field is no longer fair or level. Too many of the poor have lost hope that a path to a better life is within their grasp. While the last eight years have been pretty good ones for top earners, they’ve been a lost decade for the rest of America.”

Maybe Jeb, it appears...

gotalife
gotalife

Forget the Pope and liberals.


Obamatrade needs to pass.


I donated to get it passed so pay me back dang it.

gotalife
gotalife

House votes to extend trade fight into July

Cristina Marcos - 06/16/15 02:14 PM EDT

The House now has until July 30 for a do-over on Obama's trade agenda


Give Pelosi the highway bill to get her on board.


I have pork in this deal.


It is all about me making more money.


Pass Obamatrade. Pay back those donations gop. Don't go wobbly on money gop.

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

If Republicans insist on the 99% paying more of the federal income tax burden, then they should work toward getting the 99% more of the taxable income burden.

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

In fact, wouldn't this be a perfect application for that trickle down thingie.  And GWB has already given out the tax cuts so what are the 1% waiting for!  An invitation to trickle!

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

The top 1% pays nearly 40% of the total federal tax burden. And yet u still whine? That's just plain bizarre.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@hillarysemail @Numbers_R_Us It would seem fair only to the ignorant who don't know that disposable income is nonexistent for the poor, attainable for the middle class, and an overwhelming amount of the pie for the rich. 


So, flat taxes are stupid.  Progressive taxes are much fairer.